Last modified on Fri 21 Dec 2018 14.13 EST Trump’s strong support was largely seen as a result of the involvement of his son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner. At the signing ceremony, he thanked Kushner personally.Of prisoners who could not advocate for themselves from behind bars, Kushner said: “We were their lobbyists.”The act expands rehabilitative opportunities, increases “good time”-served credits for most federal prisoners, reduces mandatory minimum sentences for a number of drug-related crimes and formally bans some correctional practices including the shackling of pregnant women.“This bill could have died a dozen different deaths,” said Van Jones, co-founder of advocacy group #cut50, which was integral in the bill’s design. “But the broad coalition that came together to pass it refused to give up.Jones, a frequent outspoken critic of Trump on his CNN show, added: “Many have seen their loved ones sent to prison or were incarcerated themselves. For all of us, this fight was deeply personal.”Early critics of the bill, such as New Jersey senator Corey Booker and the ACLU, who felt that the legislation did not go far enough, came around in large part due to major additions to the House version of the bill by the Senate, which added language on sentencing reform. The first House version only contained reforms on the way inmates are treated in prison.In exchange, progressive reformers had to accept a number of changes to which prisoners will be eligible for benefits under the act, based on the crime for which they were convicted. The sentencing reforms were also mostly not made retroactive, meaning they do not apply to inmates already sentenced.“The First Step Act is by no means perfect,” said Jesselyn McCurdy, deputy director of the Washington legislative office at the ACLU. “But we are in the midst of a mass incarceration crisis, and the time to act is now.“We applaud the bipartisan group of senators who were willing to listen to advocates.” Fri 21 Dec 2018 14.12 EST Topics Donald Trump shakes hands with Alveda King during a signing ceremony for the First Step Act at the White House on 21 December.Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters Share on Twitter Since you’re here… Share on Messenger Trump signs bipartisan criminal justice overhaul First Step Act into law Jamiles Lartey news Can Kushner’s work on the criminal justice overhaul save his reputation? Sign up for the new US morning briefing @JamilesLartey This article is more than 6 months old … we have a small favour to ask. The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share on Pinterest Read more Share on Twitter First Step, which earned support from Kamala Harris and Ted Cruz, expands rehabilitative opportunities for inmates Support The Guardian Share on WhatsApp This article is more than 6 months old Share on Facebook Reuse this content Donald Trump US prisons Share on Facebook US politics Shares164164 Share via Email Share on LinkedIn US prisons Share via Email Donald Trump on Friday signed into law the First Step Act, a prison and sentencing reform bill with strong bipartisan support, having passed the Senate earlier this week and in the House yesterday. “The First Step Act will make communities SAFER and SAVE tremendous taxpayers dollars,” the president said in a statement. “It brings much-needed hope to many families during the holiday season.”The result of coalition-building in a partisan political climate, First Step earned support from politicians as ideologically diverse as senators Kamala Harris and Ted Cruz, and from advocacy groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Fraternal Order of Police.